MUSIC: Mega Ran plays 502 Bar, San Antonio

Random, also known as Mega Ran, is quite possibly the most prolific rapper in all of nerdcore. This is a very good thing. In addition to his full-length albums he has put out numerous singles and EPs, each one a little piece of his soul that shows his writing and rapping skills are always top-notch.

Mega Ran got his start when he sampled the music from Mega Man and rapped over it, something that didn't go unnoticed by the folks at Capcom. As he told us during the show, they seemed a little concerned about the sampling and about the fact that he colored Mega Man black. It was all good, though, since it led to his being licensed by the studio to rap over their eight bit beats.

I first heard of Mega Ran from MC Frontalot a few years ago. He said in a tweet that he was going down to see Mega Ran, and because I generally trust Front's judgment, I immediately looked him up. This was around the time he released Forever Famicom and I was thrilled to hear samples from Little Nemo and Chrono Trigger, some of my favorite video games of all times, making me an instant fan of his work. I never looked back and couldn't be happier about it.

One of the best things about Mega Ran is how positive his rapping is. He is inclusive, inspirational, and most of all, fun to listen to. No matter how down you are, his rhymes will lift you up and leave you feeling great. There has never been a time when Mega Ran hasn't been able to cheer me up, particularly with his song "For The Gamers".

I went to see him live for the first time on Thursday night at 502 Bar in San Antonio, which is a great venue for indie acts. It has a decent sized stage, great sound and excellent drinks. There is nothing greater than to be right up close and personal with Mega Ran and his hacked NES deck.

Mega Ran raps with BitForce

Mega Ran raps with BitForce

The crowd was modest to say the least, but their enthusiasm was huge. It was obvious that they were all there to see Ran because they all sort of hung back to enjoy the show right up until he took the stage. My husband Eli was with me and we scooped up a table that was right up on the stage so we'd be in the middle of the action.

There were several local openers and Mega Ran started off the night with some freestyle supporting the first openers, a group of guys called Bit Force who had more of a metal sound over some classic video game beats. They called him up, much to his surprise, and they did two songs together; the first was from his amazing Forever Famicom, the second was all Ran. It's always a joy to hear him rap off the cuff and this was no different.

In addition to being a great rapper, Mega Ran is also a genuinely nice guy who spent a lot of time playing video games with his fellow musicians and whichever of his fans wanted to challenge him. I went up to introduce myself and we chatted briefly about PAX and how I heard about him, and he talked at length with Eli about all sorts of things. Being another huge fan, I tried to talk my husband into playing Street Fighter with him, but he was concerned about getting beaten. Badly.

When it was time for Mega Ran to go on, the crowd moved in close to the stage and all eyes were on him. When he did "Dream Master" the audience was cheering, loving to hear about his nerdy life and how he came to be the rapper who was standing in front of us. It just so happens that "Dream Master" is one of my favorite songs, so I was thrilled to hear it live for the first time.

Mega Ran at 502 Bar, San Antonio

Mega Ran at 502 Bar, San Antonio

Then it was time for some freestyle, something he's well known for. He had everybody hold up items from their purses or pockets and rapped about them one at a time. It was super fun to hear him come up with rhymes for everything from a pack of cigarettes (which he kept because they're bad for you, returning them only when their owner came to see him after the show) to a little character keychain someone produced. No one was able to stump him this time, though I might have been able to if I'd made it up to the stage with the manga I had in my purse. Yes, I carry manga in my purse.

He welcomed Richie Branson, an artist from San Antonio who mixed his album, to the stage and rapped with him about Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, doing some call-and-response that went back to the beginning of his set when he rapped about James Brown. During the song Ran asked if there were any gamers here and the crowd went crazy.

I think my favorite part of the evening, though, was when he did "Buggin'", which was a song about Kafka's Metamorphosis, saying that a third of the crowd would be happy and the rest of them would be confused. Rapping about classic literature, how many rappers can say that? I also loved when he did the song he used to sing on the first day of school for his eighth grade students and had us wave our hands in the air.

He closed out the show with "Splash Woman", Eli's all-time favorite song, and I felt like we'd just gotten started. Then he pulled out Mega Man's Mega Buster and put it on for the encore, giving us the full Mega Ran experience right up until the end. It was glorious and I only wish he could have rapped for another hour or so.

Mega Ran with his MegaBlaster

Mega Ran with his MegaBlaster

Mega Ran is great anytime, but I can say with certainty that he is even better live. His energy plus the energy of the crowd is an amazing thing, and seeing him freestyle was one of the great joys of my concert-going life. We had a great night out and got to meet a guy that we idolize in real life. What could be better?

The answer, of course, is nothing.

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Author Bio:

Natalie is a full-time cat lady and manga lover who gets way too attached to fictional characters for her own good. She loves JRPGs, DDR, and watching videos of people playing hilariously bad licensed games. She has written a book called Plans and lives in the US (specifically, Texas) with her husband and a number of cats.

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